Psychology and Spirituality II

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Psychology and Spirituality II

  1. 1. Psychology and Spirituality II Janet K. Ruffing, RSM July 2009
  2. 2. Akhtar and Parens (2001) “Transitional Phenomena” the location of religious feelings <ul><li>Transitional Space </li></ul><ul><li>Transitional object </li></ul><ul><li>Transitional Phenomena </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not contained in a concrete structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cannot be held or discarded </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Subjectively experienced </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neither questioned nor not questioned for verity </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Jim Jones <ul><li>“In prayer there really is no ‘object’ that the believer manipulates but rather psychological ‘space’ or state of consciousness which s/he enters. </li></ul><ul><li>a referent of the term “transitional” </li></ul>
  4. 4. Application of Object Relations and Self Psychology to self/ Other relationship in mystical experience <ul><li>State of consciousness promoting mutual influence of two subjectivities </li></ul><ul><li>Prayer more than mere projection </li></ul><ul><li>Psychological growth and development of the self can result from the encounter with God </li></ul><ul><li>Both the human self (self-objects) and God representations change/ transform </li></ul>
  5. 5. Anna Maria Rizutto God Representations <ul><li>Images of God </li></ul><ul><li>As a therapist, focus is intra psychic </li></ul><ul><li>Explored with their sources as one would explore any other psychic content </li></ul><ul><li>Client’s subjective experiences of God </li></ul><ul><li>In American culture, formed from unconscious and conscious representation of God based on life history, object relations, narcissistic balance, and defensive structures –all to be explored therapeutically </li></ul><ul><li>Theological assertions or negations lie outside the empirical work </li></ul>
  6. 6. Focus on “Personal God” which may not agree with the image presented by a religious tradition <ul><li>Internal representations of God develop and change over time </li></ul><ul><li>Whether this “God” helps or not is based on the relational dynamics between the image and the conception of oneself </li></ul><ul><li>Contain parental images not usually exalted ones (if so pathological?) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Collages of significant adults (grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings and religious figures”) </li></ul><ul><li>Life long process of forming and reforming personal God in relation to their tradition that presents a God who transcends this personal representation and events that may also challenge it. </li></ul><ul><li>Positive, loving, responsive image of God corresponds to human desires fro intimacy and relationship </li></ul>
  7. 7. Cont. <ul><li>They may either help or be persecutory and destructive </li></ul><ul><li>What is the God-representation through which one relates in prayer and how connected with client’s unconscious dynamics? </li></ul><ul><li>May be part of the transference, resistance, or used defensively </li></ul><ul><li>When explored in therapy the client may acquire a new mode of believing that is free of old psychological burdens. </li></ul><ul><li>Caveat about the therapist making pronouncement about God or religion. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Cognitive Theorists <ul><li>Stage theories of development </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing cognitive complexity as development proceeds </li></ul><ul><li>In relationship to spirituality = world-view and meaning-making function </li></ul><ul><li>Stages usually sequential </li></ul><ul><li>Stage change not automatic, requires pacers + holding environment </li></ul><ul><li>Persons need both confirmation and challenge in the change process. </li></ul><ul><li>Usually we cannot see the world view in which we are embedded until we achieve the next stage and can look back </li></ul>
  9. 9. Figures: <ul><li>Piaget (conceptual development) </li></ul><ul><li>Kohlberg (moral thinking) </li></ul><ul><li>Gilligan (critiques Kohlberg on gender basis) </li></ul><ul><li>Fowler (faith schemas (theologies) </li></ul><ul><li>Kegan (progressive account of “self” “other” relationship) </li></ul><ul><li>Loevinger (ego development) </li></ul><ul><li>Hudson (social theory as well as adult development) </li></ul><ul><li>All of these theories have been drawn on in relationship to spiritual development, spiritual direciton, and pastoral counseling. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Jungian Analytic Psychology and Transpersonal Psychologies <ul><li>Jung contested Freud’s exclusive libidinal theory and interpretation of religion as always defensive </li></ul><ul><li>Sought to include all dimensions of psychic life </li></ul><ul><li>Spiritual dimension accessed through dreams and myths </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on mid-life and later –open to “numinous” </li></ul><ul><li>Very attractive conversation partner for Christian Spirituality. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Critique <ul><li>Familiar with various mystical traditions </li></ul><ul><li>Left question of God open and ambiguous </li></ul><ul><li>Feminist scholars questioned patriarchal bias </li></ul><ul><li>Focused on intra-psychic processes through the archetypes </li></ul><ul><li>Tended to neglect instinctual and relational life </li></ul><ul><li>Can be intellectualized and abstracted from life (miss the actual relationships going on with other persons in the present) or to God (mystical experience) </li></ul><ul><li>Gnostic tendencies </li></ul><ul><li>Opened the way to relate spirituality to psychology </li></ul>
  12. 12. Roberto Assajoli and Psychosynthesis <ul><li>A follower of Jung </li></ul><ul><li>Became a transpersonal psychology using Jungian concepts </li></ul><ul><li>Works directly with symbols as different levels of consciousness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focused on material emerging from the middle-unconscious (rather than deep unconscious) presupposes a transpersonal center of consciousness not identified with ego </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Approach to symbols <ul><li>With attention to how they organize, express, or dissipate psychic energy </li></ul><ul><li>Techniques for working with both positive and negative images safely </li></ul><ul><li>Very helpful for understanding and nurturing these processes within imaginative prayer or as they appear in visionary mystical states. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Transpersonal Psychologists <ul><li>Central concern= </li></ul><ul><li>“ movement and growth of consciousness—its development, vicissitudes, and varied expressions in tits divine unfolding.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The ideal would be great cohesion of the conditioned part of consciousness, that is the self, along with a free, unobstructed connection to the unconditional, spiritual being underlying this surface self” Cortright </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>William James pioneered religious experience </li></ul><ul><li>Abraham Maslow self-actualization and peak-experiences </li></ul>
  16. 16. Transpersonal Psychologists <ul><li>Tend to privatize religious experience and disconnect them from religious traditions </li></ul><ul><li>Give accounts of healthy spiritual development </li></ul><ul><li>Resist reductionist accounts of the search for God, and self-transcendence </li></ul>
  17. 17. The mission statement of first Journal of Transpersonal Psychology <ul><li>illustrates attention to “high end” experiences: </li></ul><ul><li>“ publication of theoretical and applied research, original contributions, empirical papers, articles and studies in meta-needs, ultimate values, unitive consciousness, peak experience, ecstasy, mystical experience, B-values, essence, bliss, awe, wonder, self-actualization, ultimate meaning, transcendence of the self, spirit, sacralization of everyday life, oneness, cosmic awareness...and related concepts, experiences, and activities.” </li></ul>
  18. 18. Ambiguous Experiences: Mystical or Pathological? <ul><li>Stanislaus and Cristina Grof </li></ul><ul><li>“ Spiritual Emergency” rather than “psychotic” breakdown </li></ul><ul><li>Lukoff </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Differentiated when both mystical and psychotic features present </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Agosin </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Draws on Perry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Psychotic and not mystical </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mystical and psychotic (pathological) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mystical and not psychotic </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Transpersonal <ul><li>More attention to spirituality and ordinary life </li></ul><ul><li>Suffering, pain, abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Fostered a shift in clinical work toward respect for spirituality </li></ul><ul><li>Work with wounded histories without denigrating transpersonal dimensions of life </li></ul>
  20. 20. Definitions from Transpersonalists does not always fit Christian experience <ul><li>explanatory systems…conceptualize the “transpersonal” as some part of the unconscious, some aspect of human experience, some aspect of psychological experience that falls short of the complex interpersonal relationship with God, a divine Other, not identified with the self but certainly experienced as affecting the self. It appears as if soul/spirit has so thoroughly collapsed into psyche that there is little conceptual room held for the mysterious and unaccountable spiritual effects of this relationship which according to Christian mystics often takes place beneath psychological awareness, but that nevertheless, brings about transformations in both the divine-human relational life and the Christian’s day-to-day experience. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Ken Wilber Very creative theorist <ul><li>Map of consciousness correlating specific psychological issues to specific therapies </li></ul><ul><li>Psychological work precedes spiritual development </li></ul><ul><li>Spiritual practices alone do not address psychological deficiencies </li></ul><ul><li>Spiritual levels of consciousness not addressed by therapeutic means </li></ul><ul><li>Psychological training is not the same as spiritual development with a specific tradition </li></ul>
  22. 22. “Pre/trans Fallacy” <ul><li>Suggests that western psychotherapy made the mistake of associating transpersonal states (Freud’s oceanic feeling) with pre-personal development or regression to that level in a psychosis. </li></ul><ul><li>Transpersonal states represent a development beyond solid reflexive ego consolidation and introduce a non-ego bound way of experiencing reality. </li></ul><ul><li>It makes a difference if these occur before or after ego development </li></ul>
  23. 23. Transcendence: Walter Conn <ul><li>A question to ask critically is what is the goal of development. Within Christian Spirituality it means some form of self-transcendence. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Can psychological ideals of self-realization, self-fulfillment, and self-actualization be reconciled with traditional Christian ideals of self-denial, self-surrender, and self-sacrifice?” (1998, 35) Conn affirms that self-realization can be understood as compatible with Christianity if it refers to the fulfillment of our true selves and self-denial as the “rejection of any interest, desire, or wish of the self that interferes with the realization of our true selves.” </li></ul>
  24. 24. Walter Conn <ul><li>“Every achievement of creative understanding, realistic judgment, responsible decision, and generous love is an instance of self-transcendence. Such cognitive, moral, and affective self-transcendence to which the gospel calls us in service of the neighbor” and nothing less-- is the criterion of authentic self-realization.” </li></ul>
  25. 25. Psychological Studies of Spirituality <ul><li>Empirical Measures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Religiosity or Spirituality? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relationship of spirituality to health </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Meditation research (brain scan and neuroscience explanations) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Development of measures favoring either religiosity or spirituality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Problems with splitting religion from spirituality </li></ul></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Hill and Pargament <ul><li>Reviewed 125 measures and identified 17 categories </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beliefs, attitudes, religious orientation, faith development, fundamentalism, attitudes toward death, congregational involvement, and satisfaction </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Fetzer Institute worked with 12 Domains <ul><li>daily spiritual experiences, </li></ul><ul><li>meaning, values, beliefs, </li></ul><ul><li>forgiveness, </li></ul><ul><li>private religious practices, </li></ul><ul><li>religious/spiritual coping, </li></ul><ul><li>religious support, </li></ul><ul><li>religious/spiritual history, </li></ul><ul><li>commitment, </li></ul><ul><li>organizational religiousness, </li></ul><ul><li>and religious preference. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Critique <ul><li>The split between religion and spirituality </li></ul><ul><li>Separates internal external </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Private / institutional </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neglects social contexts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Makes spirituality positive and religion negative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Overlooks negative aspects of spirituality and positive aspects of religion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spirituality may be experienced within a religious tradition or outside of it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better theory needed </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Advances in “spirituality concepts and measures that are functionally related to physical and mental health” <ul><li>perceived closeness to God; orienting, motivating forces; religious support; religious and spiritual struggle. </li></ul><ul><li>They hope for the development of </li></ul><ul><ul><li>alternatives to self-report measures, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>measures of religious and spiritual “outcomes” rather than of “predictors” alone, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and measures of religious and spiritual change and transformation. </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Qualitative Research <ul><li>increasingly popular as a research methodology in a variety of fields, including psychology and offers new avenues of inquiry for Christian spirituality as well. </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative research is often the starting point of projects that begin with a conceptual development of the focus of study and eventually result in quantitative studies that can further test the hypotheses and findings of the smaller scale, interview process usually used in qualitative work. </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative work is rich in suggestive detail and fosters an exploration of multiple aspects of the study subjects’ experience. (Miles and Huberman, 1984; Moustakas, 1990, 1994; Ruffing, 1995; Anderson, 1998; Hay and Nye,1998) </li></ul><ul><li>The use of qualitative methodology enables ethnographic, phenomenological, and heuristic forms of research that enable a researcher to go beyond one’s own limited perspective yet draws on the researcher’s capacity for empathic understanding and insight that emerges in the process of the study. </li></ul><ul><li>Although the results of such studies do not yield statistically reliable data, they do yield new insights about a broad range of human experiences that may be infused with the sacred and thus an appropriate method of research for scholars in Christian spirituality. </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>Qualitative work is rich in suggestive detail and fosters an exploration of multiple aspects of the study subjects’ experience. (Miles and Huberman, 1984; Moustakas, 1990, 1994; Ruffing, 1995; Anderson, 1998; Hay and Nye,1998) </li></ul><ul><li>The use of qualitative methodology enables ethnographic, phenomenological, and heuristic forms of research that enable a researcher to go beyond one’s own limited perspective yet draws on the researcher’s capacity for empathic understanding and insight that emerges in the process of the study. </li></ul><ul><li>Although the results of such studies do not yield statistically reliable data, they do yield new insights about a broad range of human experiences that may be infused with the sacred and thus an appropriate method of research for scholars in Christian spirituality. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Initial Critical Correlations <ul><li>Each psychological approach presents its own perspectives, insights, and limitations. </li></ul><ul><li>Therapeutic approaches are human means. Beneficial interventions can be compared to ascetical means; therapy is a human endeavor that greatly contributes to self-knowledge, that repairs psychic wounds, and that contributes to better ego integrity and agency through increasing the client’s freedom. </li></ul><ul><li>It is no longer possible to understand human personhood in its process of choosing some form of self-transcendence, union with the Divine, altruistic dedication to others, or even minimally the robust recognition of the claims of others to the same full personhood as one claims for oneself without appropriating an adequate understanding of depth psychology. </li></ul><ul><li>Psychological studies that demonstrate the health benefits of certain meditation practices or forms of Christian prayer may help scholars in Christian spirituality make better recommendations about specific means at certain times in people’s lives related to both their existential condition and progress in contemplation. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the Christian contemplative tradition holds that prayer and meditation have as their primary purpose fostering one’s personal relationship with God and that the on-going transformation of life and consciousness, resulting over time, unfolds in unpredictable and unique ways for each person. The results of the mysterious interaction of God and the human (spirit/psyche, body) can never be limited to what can be empirically measured or expected from human technologies of the self. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Cont. <ul><li>Prayer during times of spiritual struggle and change may be one of life’s stressors rather than a stress-reducer. </li></ul><ul><li>Practices that promote healing do not prevent mortals from eventually dying. </li></ul><ul><li>The quest for meaning or achieving a sense of the value of one’s life remains a life-long project as does the commitment to the practices that sustain the whole web of relationship that constitutes Christian life. </li></ul><ul><li>Psychological language, concepts and therapies are important, but remain part of the picture. They cannot become the single methodological lens for the study of Christian spirituality. </li></ul><ul><li>Scholars in spirituality will need considerable control over the emerging schools and insights of psychology in order to discover which theorists and which studies offer the greatest potential for adequate understanding of the particular phenomenon that forms part of the problematic for each particular study. </li></ul><ul><li>Researchers in psychology frequently need deeper understandings of spirituality than they may realize. Studying eastern religions/ spiritualities may not yield much insight into western Christian spiritualities and how they function in western culture. </li></ul>

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